The post-pandemic exodus of Angelenos and New Yorkers to the sunny shores of South Florida has been nothing short of a phenomenon. Ain’t no doubt about it: Miami is having a moment.
But just as our ancestors wandered the desert searching for sustenance, newcomers to the Magic City may similarly be seeking the plethora of Jewish baked goods they used to encounter on every corner.
Here’s the good news: flaky babkas, creative challahs and, um, brisket-filled croissants are readily available in Miami — if you know where to look. So if you’ve ever found yourself on South Beach sighing nostalgically and craving a black and white cookie, this is the list for you.
Zak the Baker (Wynwood)
No Miami bakery round-up would be complete without the Hasid-meets-hipster paradise that is Zak the Baker. Situated in one of the city’s most popular neighbourhoods, you’ll know you’ve arrived when you spot the bakery’s signature rainbow-colored walls and round-the-block line — don’t worry, it moves fast!
With consistently perfect challah sold on Thursdays and Fridays; buttery double-chocolate babkas; and annual holiday specials (think strawberry jelly sufganiyot on Hanukkah and chocolate-caramel hamantaschen on Purim), this Miami institution features many familiar classics you know and love.
But there’s no shortage of innovation. Zak’s salty, chewy salmon bacon is a work of genius, best enjoyed sandwiched between a freshly made breakfast roll with egg and cheese. His tangy guava and queso pastelito is a savory-sweet nod to Miami’s Latin soul, while his olive and za’atar sourdough loaf encapsulates the taste of the Middle East.
295 NW 26th St., Miami, Fl 33127
Open 7 a.m.-5 p.m. (closed Saturdays)
El Bagel (MiMo)
Baked fresh each morning, El Bagel offers delightfully large, chewy, hand-rolled versions of its namesake, sold in three classic varieties: plain, sesame and everything.
Pick up a paper bag’s full along with your choice of homemade schmears, locally smoked lox and ready-made fish and egg salads. Alternatively, opt for the store’s sandwich menu, featuring generously stuffed creations with some excellent names — “Whitefish Girl,” we’re looking at you.
This small MiMo spot has a few dine-in tables but mainly functions on an online pre-order and pickup basis. The great news? There’s even a catering option for your family’s next bar mitzvah brunch!
Hot tip: If you find yourself in the area around closing time, see if you can score one of El Bagel’s daily leftover bags on the Too Good to Go app — a commendable (and delicious!) initiative aimed at reducing food waste.
6910 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33138
Open 8 a.m.-2 p.m. (closed Tuesdays)
Sonny’s Bakery (North Miami Beach)
There’s nothing quite like wandering into the permanently jam-packed, utterly delicious-smelling Sonny’s Bakery and being greeted by the self-proclaimed “King of Challah” himself.
The thing is… it’s kind of hard to argue with the man. From traditional plain and sesame to inventive, filled varieties such as apple and guava, Sonny’s has a braided beauty for everyone. And we’ll eat our yarmulke if you don’t finish the entire loaf in one sitting.
Aside from legendary challah, Sonny’s is also famed for its flaky rugelach and completely indulgent “bobkas” (AKA babkas). A wide selection of cookies and pastries span all corners of the Jewish diaspora, with date-filled ma’amoul cookies, Linzer cookies, mandel bread and more. Everything is certified kosher, to boot.
18445 NE 19th Ave., North Miami Beach, FL 33179
Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon-Tues, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Wed-Thurs, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Fri (closed weekends)
Flour and Weirdoughs (Key Biscayne)
Located a mere stone’s throw from the tranquil shores of Key Biscayne — a welcome relief from the crowds of Miami Beach — this weird and wonderful, rustic bakery is definitely Jew-ish.
Would our ancestors have indulged in such offerings as ham and cheese croissants, or pork and plantain empanadas? Perhaps not. That being said, do we believe they’re smiling fondly upon us each time we partake in Flour and Weirdoughs’ smoked salmon and goat’s cheese Danish, or brisket-filled croissant (you heard), so aptly named “It’s Brisket, B*tch!?” Kinda!
Dry-cured in-house and bundled up with grain mustard in a buttery croissant dough, you can also catch their signature brisket smoked and sandwiched between freshly made baguettes or sourdough from 10 a.m. daily.
19 Harbor Dr., Key Biscayne, FL 3314
Open 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (closed Mondays)
Michael’s Mandel Bread (online)
Whether you’ve read about Michael’s Mandel Bread in the New York Times, visited his stand at last year’s South Beach Wine and Food Festival or never heard of the guy, this local Miami gem is worthy of your attention.
A COVID-19 success story, Michael Reiss, a general contractor in Miami, began selling loaves of mandel bread to a select few friends and family members a couple of months into lockdown, back in 2020. His treats became an instant sell-out and are now sold nationwide.
With modern twists on traditional mandelbrot, Michael’s Mandel Bread features a soft, cookie-like texture thanks to its one-time bake (as opposed to the traditional double). Add sprinkles, chocolate chips or banana into the dough and you’ve got a winner.
Order online for free nationwide shipping and delivery.